Parental insightfulness and parent–child emotion dialogues: Shaping children’s internal working models.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The concept of internal working models (IWMs) is of particular significance in attachment theory because it reflects the importance Bowlby accorded both to the inner world of the child and to the child's actual experiences. For Bowlby, IWMs were dynamic representational structures based on the child's actual experiences with the social world that, once consolidated, serve to guide their thoughts, feelings, and behavior and are relatively resistant to change. Bowlby also stressed that while in early infancy IWMs are based primarily on the direct experience of children with their social world, parent–child patterns of verbal communication assume increased importance with age in shaping children's IWMs. This dual focus—on the grounding of IWMs in children's caregiving experiences and on parent–child emotional communication—guided authors' work. Specifically, they focus on parental insightfulness, that is, the capacity of the parent to think about the inner world of the child and the thoughts, motives, and emotions underlying the child's behavior, and on how parents guide emotion dialogues with their children, as important influences on the development of the child's IWMs. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAttachment
Subtitle of host publicationThe fundamental questions.
EditorsRoss A. Thompson, Jeffry A. Simpson, Lisa J. Berlin
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherThe Guilford Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781462546022
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Attachment Behavior
  • Attachment Theory
  • Parent Child Communication
  • Verbal Communication
  • Emotions
  • Insight
  • Models
  • Caregiving


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